An Off-Piste Christmas – Julie Houston

The last thing Harriet Westmoreland wants is Christmas away from home, particularly when skiing, snow, heights and freezing her backside off are on the menu. While her own family, together with her best friend Grace’s, are soon whizzing down ridiculously high and scary mountains in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Harriet is stuck in the remedial class on the nursery slopes unable, it seems, to remain vertical.

Tired of trying to stay upright in the dunces’ class, Harriet decides to overcome her fear of heights and take her bruised body off to explore the refugios in the magnificent Dolomites above Cortina. And maybe catch a glance of George Clooney, rumoured to be in town… But what happens next triggers a totally unexpected avalanche of events which proves that, for friends Harriet and Grace and all their families, Christmas really is a time for little miracles…

This was the first Christmas read of the season for me and not my usual genre either.

I absolutely adored this grab your attention festive novella and giggled my way through from one page to the next!

I loved the lighthearted way it was written especially about subjects not very lighthearted and maybe even close to home for some. The humour that rolled off the pages, softening the reality of heartfelt situations was very well-played and added that extra joviality to the storyline bringing the characters to life.

This was the first story I have read by Houston with this being the first introduction to the characters but how they shone, bold and bright from the pages.

Very well-developed and loveable, with those who were not so loveable being realistic and dramatic, over the top if you will, yet you can sympathise and laugh hoping you never find yourself in one of those situations and certainly not with those people. At some point in our lives it is inevitable we will!

There were very real aspects of the story that struck a chord with me. The mother – daughter relationship and the spilling of home truths, the feelings about the marriage of Nick and Harriet and the standing up to the overbearing mother and saying your piece! that I especially enjoyed.

The very best thing for me was that this Christmas story was a realistic read, not a soppy rom com affair with a fairytale ending

It felt real and relatable, crazy, manic and a little off the wall but all in such a great way. Thoroughly enjoyable and a superb little read to get you ready for Christmas.


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